Rumors of deathrock’s uh, death, are greatly exaggerated. Pinkish Black proved it was still alive and well with their excellent self-titled debut earlier this year, and now Portland, Oregon’s Atriarch have knocked it out of the goddamn park with Ritual of Passing. This isn’t your granddaddy Rozz Williams’ deathrock though. While it might be built on a tortured foundation similar to what bands like Christian Death were putting down back in the day, Atriarch breaths new life into the genre by incorporating the musical vocabularies of doom and black metal into their approach, making their brand of diseased heaviness that much more, well, deathly.
Portland, Oregon doom-mongers Witch Mountain have been roaming the underworld since 1997, but didn’t start picking up steam until they were joined by vocalist Uta Plotkin in 2009 and subsequently released their second album (and first new release in ten years) in 2011, the well-regarded South of Salem. Plotkin’s presence rejuvenated the band, leading to increased live activity, a record deal with Profound Lore and finally culminating in Cauldron of the Wild, an album that sees Witch Mountain coming into their own as top-tier purveyors of traditional American doom.
The recent resurgence of cassette culture within the US black metal underground (and elsewhere) seems to be foreshadowing a paradigm shift within the scene; perhaps it is the beginning of the death knell of “heavy metal inc” and a return to the DIY ethics that underground metal was built on. Unfortunately it is impossible to go back to having to put real effort into discovering new music in “the age of blogspot”, but a slew of bands and labels appear genuinely committed to taking the underground back underground, out of the hands of industry slime-balls, self-absorbed mercenary “journalists” and sloganeering try-hards, putting it back in the hands of those that matter, the truly dedicated artists and fans themselves.